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Nagpur pitch under scrutiny as South Africa seek answers to counter India’s spin trio – 3rd Test Prediction

[box type=”shadow” align=”alignleft” class=”” width=””]Prediction: There are setbacks for South Africa & there are setbacks for India too. India will, despite the odds, handle the situation better than South Africa to get back to strength. The contest should be longer. India has a chance to win the game, yet it wouldn’t be as easy as people think. At a distance, the Draw is our second preference.[/box]
Spinners have handed India a definite advantage. (photo courtesy: thequint.com)
Spinners have handed India a definite advantage. (photo courtesy: thequint.com)

Despite the relentless rain in Bangalore, an exuberant Indian team led by young skipper Virat Kohli managed to widen the frailties in the South African batting unit. And the focus now shifts to the VCA Stadium in Jamtha, Nagpur, for the 3rd Test match in the PayTM Freedom Trophy between India and South Africa.

Facing the prospect of a must-win contest, the visitors will desperately need their talismanic captain Hashim Amla to regain his form and combat a three-pronged spin attack on a surface which is expected to start deteriorating from the first day itself. With the ability of the current Indian batsmen to play quality spin remaining circumspect at best, the likes of Imran Tahir and Simon Harmer will have to step up and make full use of a raging turner, the likes of which they are highly unlikely to get anywhere else in the world.

Despite his accomplishments in the limited-overs formats, Tahir is struggling to adapt to the vagaries of Test cricket. The primary reason behind his misery in the traditional format of the sport stems from a lack of control which results in an inconsistent style of bowling. His problems were apparent as he was overshadowed by Harmer and even the part-timer in Dean Elgar. However, there are no doubts over his quality, and the Indians will be wary of the odd good day on which Tahir can wreak havoc on any batting line-up in the world.

For the hosts, the bowling unit looks menacing in these conditions with Ravichandran Ashwin at the peak of his prowess. Ably complemented by Ravindra Jadeja and Amit Mishra, he has placed more emphasis on drift and loop which has reaped him significant rewards. In the batting department, the onus will once again be on Murali Vijay and Cheteshwar Pujara to weather the storm by negotiating a testing pitch and strengthening an inexperienced middle-order.

Kohli’s ability to play on pitches which are skewed heavily in favour of the bowlers will also come under the spotlight. Despite having 11 Test centuries to his name, there is general consensus that he is vulnerable against persistent bowling and has not yet realized his complete potential in the longest format of the game.

Players to Watch Out For

India

Murali Vijay does not quite get the same media attention as Virat Kohli or Ajinkya Rahane. With his uncompromising technique and calm demeanour, he is establishing himself as a man for all seasons and conditions. Batting with authority in all the three innings so far, Vijay will want to solidify his credentials further with a big one.

South Africa

Early in his career, Dean Elgar impressed onlookers with a sparkling century in Galle as he calmly dealt with the threat of Rangana Herath on a wearing surface. Despite getting starts in both Mohali and Bangalore, he threw his wicket away at untimely moments by attempting expansive shots. This time though, he would like to anchor South Africa’s batting unit with an impactful knock.

India vs South Africa: Predicted Line-ups

India

The team management could be looking to revert to the three-man spin attack with Ishant Sharma likely to be the sole pacer. In a bid to bolster the lower-order, Rohit Sharma looks set to enter the playing eleven at the expense of Varun Aaron. Shikhar Dhawan should keep his place after showing signs of fluency in his brief sojourn at Bangalore.

Shikhar Dhawan, Murali Vijay, Cheteshwar Pujara, Virat Kohli, Ajinkya Rahane, Rohit Sharma, Wriddhiman Saha, Ravichandran Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja, Amit Mishra, Ishant Sharma

South Africa

Even though he is training hard to overturn a groin strain, Dale Steyn might miss out on playing on a venue in which he ripped India’s fabled batting line-up apart with a magical spell of reverse-swing. Hashim Amla will want his batsmen to meet the challenging conditions with a convincing display.

Stiaan Van Zyl, Dean Elgar, Hashim Amla, AB De Villiers, Faf Du Plessis, JP Duminy, Dane Vilas, Simon Harmer, Morne Morkel, Kagiso Rabada, Imran Tahir

Analysing the Playing Conditions

The weather in Nagpur is expected to remain hot and dry throughout the match with temperatures soaring above 30 degrees Celsius. The last time a Test was played in Nagpur, the playing surface was chastened publicly for producing a dismal encounter. The curator has promised to avoid a repeat of the 2012 fiasco by preparing a pitch which will aid the spinners to an enormous extent.

Match Details

Time: 0930 IST

Venue: VCA Stadium, Nagpur

TV Coverage: Star Sports 1, 3 and HD

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